Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America- and an incredible adventure for the whole family. The summit is a must-experience family travel destination close to Denver.
Note- due to COVID-19, the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway is not slated to open until July 1, 2020. More information here.
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About Mount Evans
Mount Evans is a 14,000-foot mountain located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains as part of the US Forest Service. You can only access Mt. Evans from Memorial Day to Labor Day and the access is weather dependent.
The trip to Mount Evans is about 2 hours round trip from Denver- if you don’t stop at all. But there are so many amazing places to stop that we spent about 6 hours on our trip.
There is a $15 fee per car to enter the park. The Rangers prefer cash, and were super grateful we had $5 dollar bills with us.
Before you arrive at the top of Mount Evans, you will pass Echo Lake (a great place to picnic) and Summit Lake (part of the highest city park in the nation.)
You can hike Mount Evans but you need to know it is a very high mountain peak- most people train to do so and being very early to avoid dangerous and potentially fatal storms.
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Mount Evans Scenic Byway Location
To visit Mt Evans Colorado, head west from Denver toward Idaho Springs via I 70. Then Exit 240 Highway 103 toward Mt Evans Road.
The trip to Mount Evans is about 2 hours round trip from Denver- if you don’t stop at all. But there are so many amazing places to stop, like Echo Lake Lodge, that we spent about 6 hours on our trip.
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Here’s a bit about our trip up op Mount Evans with kids:
Once inside the park, our first stop was the Nature Center. Our girls received Junior Ranger badges and workbooks about caring for our planet.
There are great hiking trails from the Nature Center, and we saw hummingbirds, voles, and countless beautiful flowers and trees.
It was at the Nature Center that I saw this awesome National Parks memorial. It made me think about how important it is to care for and protect our planet- it is so beautiful!
We then headed up to the Mount Evans summit. We saw a huge herd of mountain goats crossing the road, and my girls were thrilled. Bighorn sheep are also commonly sighted residents of Mount Evans Road!
Also- I was super glad that we headed up early as there was a ton of traffic behind us.
I am not going to lie people- the last 11 miles up to the summit of Mount Evans is a pretty intense drive- I’d dare say harrowing. There are literally huge drop-offs, treacherous curves, and, in true Colorado form, bikers riding along the edge of the road.
Plan for a slow drive and stunning views. It’s absolutely, breathtakingly incredible.
The summit of Mount Evans is spectacular- 360-degree views of the Colorado Rockies and you can even see the Denver skyline on a clear day.
The air at 14,265 feet is thin- and it’s cold.
On the trip back down we planned to stop at Summit Lake – the park ranger said there is a short hike to a lookout that would be perfect for our family- not to mention beautiful.
However- our girls fell asleep in the car and we just couldn’t bear to wake them! So just a quick stretch for me while the kids snoozed in the car.
And that’s it! The perfect day trip from Denver!!
What To Bring
- Water– there is no running water available in the national park- so make plans to arrive hydrated and have enough water.
- Snacks– Altitude sickness is a real thing- so please come prepared. Try these- 5 Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- Warm jacket– like a windbreaker, sweater or light winter jacket. The wind is cold and the altitude exacerbates it
- Motion sickness pills– if you get motion sick in the car and are not the driver then you want to make sure to bring it!
- Sunscreen– if you plan to hike much around the area the sun is very strong. If you don’t wear sunscreen you can get burned very quickly
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How high is Mount Evans? – Mount Evans is 14,265 feet high
Is Mount Evans crowded? – Yes! It can be, especially on weekends. It is best to go early- also because there are often rainstorms in the afternoon which can obscure mountain views, close the road, or make travel dangerous on wet roads.
Do I have to have a four-wheel-drive to reach the summit of Mount Evans? – No! Maybe nerves of steel, but not a 4WD or an AWD vehicle, luckily. We drove in a Honda CR-V.
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